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Battle of Dresden Area Today

A map of the area around the battle positions

Battle of Dresden summary

The Battle of Dresden was fought on 26–27 August 1813 around Dresden, Germany, resulting in a French victory under Napoleon against forces of the Sixth Coalition of Austrians, Russians and Prussians under Field Marshal Schwartzenberg.

  1. On 16 August, Napoleon had sent Marshal Saint-Cyr's corps to fortify and hold Dresden in order to hinder allied movements and to serve as a possible base for his own manoeuvres.
  2. On August 26 Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg, the commander of the Austrian force of over 200,000 men of the Austrian Army of Bohemia (and accompanied by the Austrian emperor, the Russian tsar and the Prussian king), attacked Saint-Cyr.
  3. Napoleon arrived quickly and unexpectedly with reinforcements to repel this assault.
  4. Although outnumbered two to one, Napoleon attacked the following day (27 August), turned the allied left flank, and won an impressive tactical victory.
  5. Nearly all of Klenau's battalions on the left were compelled to lay down their arms, and two other divisions of infantry shared their fate.
  6. Gyulai's divisions also suffered serious losses when they were attacked by Murat's cavalry during a rainstorm. With damp flints and powder, their muskets would not fire and many battalions became an easy prey to the French cuirassiers and dragoons.
  7. Suddenly, Napoleon had to leave the field by virtue of a sudden fit of gastric spasma and the failure to follow up on his success allowed Schwarzenberg to withdraw and narrowly escape encirclement.